Jeff Bezos: Give All Amazon Workers PTO to Vote

An open letter from a warehouse worker

Dear Jeff Bezos,

Your 600,000 U.S. workers need a paid day off to vote and participate in our democracy.

This election is critical. We face escalating authoritarianism in our government and white supremacy on our streets. Back in June, when I and other Black workers led marches, you said our lives matter. Our voices and votes matter, too.

Warehouse workers are always making difficult choices about taking time off because we do not earn enough at Amazon to fully support ourselves and our families. A few years ago, my foot was badly injured at work. The pain was agonizing. My foot was so swollen that I couldn’t put my shoe on properly. But because our on-site Amcare medical clinician said it was not serious and told me to go back to work, I had to decide whether to risk further injuring my foot and working in intense pain, or spend my scarce time off recovering at home. The pain was so severe that I went home. When the COVID pandemic hit, I did not want to become exposed to the virus. But to make rent, I had to go into work, and got COVID — along with 19,000 other Amazon workers.

Just like warehouse workers have had to sacrifice our health, now I worry about us being made to sacrifice our democracy. One place where we should have a voice across the board, whether we’re rich or poor, Black or white, is at the ballot box. We’re on the receiving end of what our politicians do. We should be able to have a say in their decisions. In fact, Amazon tells us it is our civic duty to vote. All this month, we’ve gotten messages on our Hub encouraging us to go out to the polls. But do we actually have the ability? As working-class people, we live paycheck to paycheck. We don’t have the luxury of taking the day off. We’re forced to choose between voting and making ends meet.

Democracy only works when people can participate. Jeff Bezos, do what is right for our democracy. Allow your workers to vote by making Election Day a paid day off.

Mike, New York